President Obama wants all students to have access to a computer science curriculum.
The White House announced Obama’s new Computer Science for All initiative in a blog post recently. The president has allotted $4 billion in funding for states to ensure that every student between kindergarten and 12th grade receives sufficient computer science education. Of that $4 billion, $100 million will go directly to school districts, and $135 million will be made available this year.
As technology advances, more and more jobs require employees to have computer science skills. However, not everyone has access to that kind of education. Though more than 90% of parents say they want their children to have a computer science curriculum, only about 25% of schools offer quality programs. In 22 states, computer science classes don’t even count toward graduation credit. In 2015, about 600,000 high-paying tech jobs in the U.S. went unfilled, and in the next two years over half of all STEM jobs are expected to be related to computer science.
This initiative also intends to address diversity in the tech industry. Last year, only 22% of students who took the AP Computer Science test were female, and only 13% were either African American or Latino, thereby translating into similar demographics at big tech companies. Making computer science classes mandatory for all students will hopefully encourage more diversity.